Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Social Media Lesson: The Dirty Tricks Political Parties Play

Article first publish on SG General Elections 2016

As the battle for hearts and minds heat up in the run-up to General Elections 2016, Singapore opposition supporters are waging "guerrilla warfare" against the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP).

Online Dirty Tricks by Singapore Political Parties

Leveraging on the electorate's short memory, the use of headline messaging and hot button issues, opposition supporters are seeking to undermine the Government by portraying them as out of touch, high-handed and incompetent. To do this, opposition supporters use one or a combination of the following three tactics:
#1 Rehash Old News. Whenever there is no "bad news" about the Government, opposition supportes will dig-up old news and rehash them as "breaking news". As most readers on social media only read the headlines, the fact that the incident happened several years ago oftern goes unnoticed. If a particularly emotive topic is chosen, this old news will be shared and will go viral. In this instance, while the Government has done no wrong, the perception that they have is perpetuated.
#2: Tell Half-Truths. A second tactic of opposition supporters is to tell half-truths. In this instance, opposition supporters will tell selective parts of an incident so as to let the reader believe that the Government is incompetent. One common half-truth that the opposition is still perpetuating is that the Temasek Holding lost $40 billion in 2009. What they fail to tell you is that that was during the global financial crisis where every company lost money. More importantly, they leave out the fact that Temasek Holdings has since recovered from the loss and gone on to make substantial profits.
#3 Spread Lie. The third tactic of the opposition supporters is to tell lies to make the Government look bad. One recent incident was related to the Government's SG50 initiative to give Singapore Seniors a $50 top-up of the EZ-Link card. While it was widely publicized that the top-up would begin on 12 June 2015 and that Seniors had up to one and a half years to redeem the top-up, opposition supporters deliberately started a SMS campaign on 9 June 2015 telling Seniors that they had only one day to top-up their cards. Senior were told to rush down today or else they would not get the top-up.
Sadly, to the less informed, these top three dirty tricks used by opposition supporters work. In today's environment where Singaporeans are overloaded with information, people only glance at the headlines and jump to conclusions. We hope that by educating Singaporeans on the tricks used by opposition supporters, Singaporeans will not fall prey to these misinformation and will vote wisely at GE2016

Crisis Communications Tip - Headline Messaging

As the information environment gets increasingly saturated, in order to cope, people are beginning to scan the news to stay up to date with what is happening in the world.

In fact, studies have shown that 70% of social media users only read the headlines of news article. If you don't believe us, take a closer look at the picture that accompanies this blog posting. How many of you noticed that the text after the headlines is gibberish? Not many we'll bet. :)

The point we are trying to make here is that headlines matter. That is why we have constantly emphasized the importance of getting it right the first time. In fact, we have even said that retractions don't work as the person that saw the erroneous headlines is unlikely to see the retraction.

So when managing a crisis (especially on social media), focus on headline messaging. To gain (or regain) the information initiative, proactively and continual post headlines that support your theme. Even if you have minimal or no content, pushing out a Facebook post with the correct headline will help.

Victim of Online Vigilantism in Singapore - What should you do?

Over the weekend, a sales manager became the latest victim of online vigilantism in Singapore. He was on his way to trading in his BMW 5 S...